Attention Writers! I have just unlocked the secret to writing a guaranteed best-selling book! All you need to do is include some red hot lesbian love scenes. Oh, also, you must be married to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, is sitting on a literary goldmine, yet she is failing to capitalize on it.
Let's recap: Virginia Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Webb came under fire last week after his incumbant opponent, Republican George Allen, attacked Webb for writing novels with sexually explicit passages.
Webb lashed back, and told Washington Post Radio, "I mean we can go and read Lynne Cheney's lesbian love scenes if you want to, you know, get graphic on stuff."
The vice president's wife is now denying she ever wrote anything sexually explicit. Reporting on her out-of-print novel, Sisters, however, CNN had this to say:
Reviews have long described the book as "racy" and "steamy." Excerpts
highlight a love story between two women and talk of sharing a bed.
Hmmm... sure sounds like red hot lesbian love to me.
Personal note to Ms. Cheney: Relax! Red hot lesbian love is nothing to be ashamed of. Seriously, you would win the hearts of many Democrats, especially red hot lesbian Democrats, if you would stop hiding such things.
Here's what I don't get: With all this controversy brewing, Ms. Cheney could be making millions of dollars in book sales; however, CNN reports she has convinced her publisher not to re-release the out-of-print book. As a result, used copies have been selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars. Hundreds of dollars for a book the author says isn't very good. Also, she says, it contains no red hot lesbian love scenes and nobody should read it because, really, there's nothing inside worth looking at; please move along.
What I'd like to know is: What exactly has Ms. Cheney done to "convince" her publisher not to re-release the book? The reality of the publishing industry is if a publisher owns the rights to a book that is a guaranteed best-seller -- even if the book totally sucks (or the red hot lesbian equivalent thereof) -- the publisher is going to publish the book whether the author wants it out there or not. It's about money. What have Ms. Cheney and her husband done to convince the publisher not to publish a guaranteed insta-success that is currently selling for hundreds of dollars per copy?
As for myself, I am seriously considering changing the next edition of my own book, which flirted last week with Amazon's 10,000 mark but never topped it. My book is autobiographical, and I wanted to keep it clean; therefore, before it went to press, I deleted all of my own personal red hot lesbian love experiences. Next edition, I'm putting them back in. Also, I am going to ask Vice President Cheney to dump his wife and marry me. He's not at all my type, but it's a small price to pay for literary stardom.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may recall a day that lives in infamy, a day I call Black Thursday. It was on that day, April 14, 2005, that I was unceremoniously left by my surrogate cat, dumped by the girl I had just started dating, and kicked out of the band I was playing in, all within three hours.
Rebecca Agiewich was innocently linked to one of those events, and if you read her most excellent blog, your first assumption might be that she was the person who dumped me. After all, it seems from her author bio ("Rebecca Agiewich lives in Seattle, where she has dated some of the cities most eligible bachelors and almost all of the ineligible ones....") that she has dated every single man in this city. But actually, I know Rebecca because she plays keyboards in the band that expelled me.
Rebecca, however, knew nothing of my pending musical doom. It was others in the band who decided my travel schedule did not meet their rock star needs, and informed me via e-mail that my presence at rehearsal was no longer welcome. When I happened to bump into Rebecca the next evening at a comedy improv show, her face filled with shock and horror when I informed her that others in the group had sent me away.
It just so happened that Rebecca had recently landed her first book deal, though, so in spite of my musical demise, she and I became writer pals. We get together from time to time to consume adult beverages and marvel at the mysteries of the publishing industry. Her novel has just been released -- based on her blog -- a hilariously honest look into the mind of a single 30-something female in the cyberage.
"Breakup Babe" is the absolute funniest writing to hit the so-called "chick-lit" genre since... since... hell, I have no clue. She is the only "chick-lit" a man like myself who oozes machismo from every pore one or two pores would ever read. Seriously, I don't love her writing because she's my friend. I love her writing because she is a brilliant writer whose snarkalicious chick-lit wit can even make men cackle with delight.
So there! There's another brilliant book for you to amuse yourself with for the next few weeks until my own book finally sees the light of day. Go buy Rebecca's book! Hurry! Then go buy my book! You can pre-order it and receive one of the first autographed copies off the press.
Strange things have been happening to me lately. Case in point: I received a phone call a couple of months ago asking if I would like to be the opening speaker for the Princess of Norway.
"The Princess of Norway?!" I said. "The Princess of Norway?"
"Yes," said the person making this request. "Honestly, I didn't even know Norway had a royal family."
Many Americans do not know Norway has a royal family. That is because Norway's royal family is intelligent enough to avoid the sorts of messes that get other royal families massive exposure in the American tabloids. Norway's royalty are loved by Norwegians in part because they are humble and do not run around with their noses in the air, trying to have scandals. The Norwegian royal family are humble people.
Case in point: the energy crisis of 1972. Norway's government asked everybody to please use public transportation to conserve fuel. King Olaf woke up one morning and decided he wanted to go cross-country skiing. So he grabbed his skis, wandered down the hill from the palace to the tram stop, and hopped on a public tram to get up into the hills that surround Oslo. The ticket collector, as you can imagine, was pretty damn surprised to see the king hanging out on the tram. He told the king he could ride for free, but Olaf insisted on paying for a ticket.
That's the kind of people the Norwegian royals are. They are good, down-to-earth people, the kind of people you might like to buy a beer and have a chat with.
Flashback to 1986: I go bopping off to Norway to be an exchange student. I see Princess Märtha Louise on television. "Hey," I think, "she's kind of cute."
I forget all about her until four years later, when I return to Norway to study. I see her on TV again, and I think, "Oh yeah. There's that cute princess again." But I decide she would never be interested in me. I am a mere commoner. And, to make matters worse, a writer.
Fast forward to 2002: Princess Märtha Louise announces she is getting married. To a commoner. And a writer.
Alas, my crush on the princess of Norway has long since faded; nevertheless, in spite of her down-to-earthiness, she is still royalty. I'm not really sure how to behave in the presence of royalty. It's been a while. My original goal for the day was to buy her a beer after our presentation, but it appears that cannot happen since she has other princessly duties to attend to after our event.
I will be giving my usual slide presentation about travel in Scandinavia. Yes, I am going to talk about Norway in front of the Princess of Norway... and likely a big crowd of Norwegians. No pressure there.
So far, 350 people have signed up to attend the event, in a theater that holds 250 people. If you are going, get there early. (I'll be speaking at 10 a.m. at the Edmonds Theater, just north of Seattle. The princess is on at 11:15. You'll find full details at ricksteves.com.)
Just before the opening dinner at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, Erin and Elizabeth, my writers' conference buddies, spot me looking for a table.
"Come with us," they say. "We saved you a seat at the table right in front of the stage."
Five minutes later, Dave Barry (the keynote speaker) strolls in and sits down at the table next to mine. My humor writing idol is very close to me -- so close I could fling a piece of lettuce at him.
"Haha!" I am thinking. "I should fling a piece of lettuce at Dave Barry! Now that would be high comedy! I bet he'd make a booger joke in my honor!"
But I don't fling lettuce at Dave Barry because the scolding voice of my mother is rattling in my brain. "David Eric Fox," I hear her saying, "do not fling lettuce at Dave Barry! People will think you're a lettuce flinger."
So I don't. I eat my dinner politely, and at one point, I politely excuse myself.
As I'm standing in front of the urinal, another thought enters my mind: Wouldn't it be so freaking cool if Dave Barry walked in right now and stood at the urinal next to me? What would I do in such a situation? Shaking his hand would probably not be appropriate.
Dave Barry does not walk into the bathroom. I empty my bladder and go to wash my hands. As I am leaving (I swear I am not making this up) Dave Barry's brother walks into the bathroom.
"Hi," he says.
"How's it going?" I ask.
"Good," he says.
Eventually, Dave (Barry) gets up to give his keynote speech. He tells a story about the time he met Barbara Bush. Due to a freak act of nature he had ended up standing next to her in a group photo with the White House Press Corps. He tried to make small talk with her. Embarrassing things came out of his mouth.
Thirty minutes after his speech, Dave is in the lobby signing books. I'm scared. What am I supposed to say to the man who had so much influence on my writing that I had to quit reading his stuff because I was starting to sound like a tawdry imitation, a cubic zirconium Dave? My palms are sweating. My heart is palpitating. It suddenly dawns on me that in a month, I will be giving a co-presentation with the Princess of Norway -- not just giving a presentation, but giving a presentation about her country -- and I am more intimidated by the thought of shaking Dave Barry's hand and saying, "Huhuhuh... I really like your writing, Mr. Barry."
But there is no turning back now. I am next in line. I am sufficiently nervous that I fear I might vomit up some lettuce on Dave Barry as I try to act cool in his presence, and I realize such an act would probably not make him want to endorse my book later. But it's time.
"I feel like I'm meeting Barbara Bush right now," I tell him. He laughs. I tell him his booger jokes have been a massive inspiration to me, that my own first book will be out in a matter of weeks. He congratulates me. He signs a copy of his book: Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need. He is very nice to me. He waits patiently as my digital camera freaks out and stops functioning. He wishes me luck. He shakes my hand.
I don't actually think to read what he has written in my book until two days later:
"For Dave, my idol," it says.
Wow man! Dave Barry told me I am his idol! Or maybe he was just being funny. He does that sometimes.